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Author Topic: Some new season optimism  (Read 1234 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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Some new season optimism
« on: September 20, 2020, 01:40:06 PM »
The commentators in the national media mostly seem to think we will go down this season, but they have their noses rammed so far up the backsides of the top six that it is difficult to respect their judgement. The bookies aren’t very optimistic either, presumably because we still have much of the nucleus of the team that was almost relegated last season. I think we might see a big improvement on last year, though. For one thing, we have already strengthened the squad with the purchases of Cash, Watkins and Martinez and there are still more than two weeks to go before the transfer window closes on October fifth, with at least one further purchase likely. The addition of Craig Shakespeare to the non-playing staff also brings good experience which should be of considerable benefit.

The squad additions should help us by providing more competition for places and quality options on the bench.  We have managed to hold on to Jack and let us hope that our talisman will be able to make the most of his talents over the next few years with his boyhood club. We still also have Mings, Douglas Luiz and McGinn, in particular, to call on and let us hope they will come good. The defence showed signs of improvement at the end of last season and the pre-season results gave cause for cautious optimism. Importantly too, the players and staff now have a year’s top flight experience behind them and they should have a clearer idea of what is required. If we can remain more difficult to beat than we were we should be able to keep out of danger. We will, of course, be at an early disadvantage because of playing fewer league games during September than most other clubs.

Villa are at an advantage over a number of other clubs, though, because the pandemic has, surprisingly, helped us to stay well within our Financial Fair Play budget while enabling us to spend a fair amount on new players. I was unaware of that until I listened to the latest podcast from the Villa Supporters’ Trust, a conversation between Jonny Gould and FFP expert Dave Jordan. This is the latest in a series of very interesting and entertaining podcasts from the Trust and I would urge you to sign up and listen to them if you haven’t already done so. They are well worth the membership fee.

One thing which the podcast emphasises is how lucky we are to have wealthy owners who are prepared to splash the cash. How long that will go on for remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that we are in a fortunate place at present. I have long maintained that, while fans like to castigate managers when results are disappointing, it is often the owners to whom their anger should be directed. The trouble is that it is much more difficult to get rid of owners than to maintain a steady churn of managers, which I believe is usually detrimental to a club’s longer term prospects.  Many clubs have owners who dislike spending money – in fact I recall that Villa had in charge for many years an elderly autocrat who liked to watch the pennies, to the extent that the club was often accused of lacking ambition.

That is an accusation that cannot at be present be levelled at Messrs Sawiris and Edens, who have spent a huge amount of money over the last two years. The Supporters’ Trust podcast reminds us that the FFP regulations were intended to prevent clubs becoming over reliant on wealthy ‘sugar daddies’, but have largely failed to do so. Aston Villa is a good example because we would be in real trouble if the owners decided to walk away, but Premier League clubs are now mostly in the same boat.

At the start of last season there was a huge surge of enthusiasm, with full houses greeting our overdue return to the top flight, but that was gradually replaced by anxiety as the season progressed. I am optimistic that we will be able to maintain steady progress this time but there must surely be a very good chance that this season, like last, will be disrupted by the virus. I thought the number of cases would stay fairly low until we were well into the autumn but a new wave seems to have started in early September. It looks like being a long and interesting winter and l won’t mention Brexit.

The assessment of Villa’s prospects for the new season on the Sky Sports website predicts a season of consolidation and that is what I would like to think we will get. We hoped last season that we had enough in the tank to stay out of trouble and our primary concern was to remain in the Premier League. Whether we would have done so had the pandemic not given us the time to regroup is a matter of conjecture, but Lady Luck seems to be smiling on us at present.  Our loss of form in mid season last year was partly due to the crop of injuries which seem to be a recurring feature each season and if we want to keep out of trouble this year we will need our run of good fortune to include keeping our key players firing on all cylinders.

We should be aiming to finish fourteenth or above this season and that is where I think we will end up.

Richard Keeling

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Re: Some new season optimism
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2020, 01:52:41 PM »
I’ll just be happy with mid table security and playing essentially meaningless football in late April. Toss in another good cup run or cup final for good measure. The article is good because most pundits/media only delve as far the surface of clubs they don’t really care about. We are a year more experienced, a year less naive (look at how Leeds, Fulham and the bitters have defended for how we looked last season most of the time). And we have a squad of players who have matured, improved and added to with better than we had before and we are not done yet. I’m looking forward to seeing how we do, and while I appreciate the owners loyalty to the manager, he also knows he can’t afford to get into trouble as he will be gone. It’s going to be a fascinating season.

Offline DrGonzo

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Re: Some new season optimism
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2020, 05:47:47 PM »
I avoid a lot of the mainstream media especially when it comes to the subject of football.  The little contact I have is usually through The Grauniad which has been largely cautiously optimistic and onside with The Villa cause, as in this weekends "10 things to watch" :

Villa’s strengthened spine on view

Emiliano Martínez is expected to make his debut for Aston Villa against Sheffield United, capping a whirlwind three months for the goalkeeper. When football restarted after the Covid-19 shutdown, Martínez was widely viewed as a competent if unremarkable deputy to Bernd Leno. This week he was transferred for £20m, to considerably mixed feelings around Arsenal, and those who backed him throughout a difficult decade in north London are convinced that he will quickly become established as one of the league’s best in his position. His arrival should strengthen Villa’s spine significantly and, given they also wish to sign Bertrand Traoré and Milot Rashica, the big signings are unlikely to end there. Villa look bright, ambitious and well poised to push on from last term’s great escape. NA

Online aldridgeboy

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Re: Some new season optimism
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2020, 03:56:17 AM »
A great post. Consolidation is the key word for me.
I conservatively think we will improve a lot. The defence seemed to improve massively post lock down, and I hope that continues this season

We were woeful upfront for the last 10 games, and that seems to have been addressed. Maybe even further this week.

Luiz form was crucial , and hopefully that continues. A fully fit McGinn on top of that makes a really decent midfield pairing. With our lack of firepower, unfit Mcginn, and poor wingers ( Trez goals aside ) I felt we were almost three/four players down in the last part of the season. Which made out survival more impressive on reflection.

The additions should really boost us, and maybe we can have a season of mid table mediocrity. I’d take that now.

Also the league cup draw has, on paper , been kind. Whilst we won’t win the league , that could be a real bonus this year.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2020, 03:58:14 AM by aldridgeboy »

Offline PeterWithe

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Re: Some new season optimism
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2020, 08:17:16 AM »
I’m not entirely sure we are that much stronger than last season, I’m expecting to be looking anxiously down the table for most of the year. I think a big forward signing is needed.

Offline Scratchins

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Re: Some new season optimism
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2020, 08:29:13 AM »
An excellent article. I came out of the King Power Stadium in March - pre lock down -  in the dark and the pouring rain and very worried about relegation.
To reach this point with optimism and a feeling that we are now going in the right direction is just about the only thing bringing pleasure amongst all the worry. 


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